Many lizards often cut off their tails when they encounter predators or are severely disturbed. The tails keep jumping to attract the attention of predators while the lizard escapes as fast as possible.
Lizards in their natural environment have several potential predators, more agile, larger and stronger, over time lizards have not had defense or attack mechanisms with which they can deal with potential predators.
They have developed a series of mechanisms and strategies to survive. When a lizard encounters a natural enemy, the lizard’s reaction is usually one of distraction and flight.
There are lizards that wag their tails in the presence of predators or have brightly colored tails that attract the attention of predators.
Tail wagging and conspicuous colorations are interpreted as an adaptation that decreases the likelihood that predator attacks will be directed at the head or trunk and deflects them to less vulnerable areas of the lizard, such as the tail.
It is known that in order to distract its enemy the lizard breaks its tail, while the enemy is distracted by the tail the lizard escapes, gets out of danger, and avoids losing its life.
This phenomenon is called self-interception and can be considered a protective adaptation to evade the enemy. Self-cutting can occur anywhere on the tail.
But the place where the tail docks is not at the joint between the two vertebrae of the tail, but at the special cartilaginous septum in the middle of the vertebral body itself.
This special diaphragm structure is formed during the ossification of the tail vertebrae and is broken due to the strong contraction of the tail muscles.
The cells of the cartilage septum retain the characteristics of embryonic sex for life and can continue to differentiate.
So after the tail is broken, a new tail can be regenerated from there. There is no segmented tail bone in the regenerated tail, but a continuous bone rib.
While the lizard is detached from its tail, it remains moving as if it had a life of its own, the few seconds of distraction are enough for the lizard to quickly flee from danger.
- 1 How exactly does the tail detachment of lizards work?
- 2 Why does a lizard tail still move when it falls off?
- 3 How important is the tail for a lizard?
- 4 How many times can a lizard’s tail be broken?
- 5 How long does it take for a lizard to grow a tail?
- 6 Can a lizard survive without a tail?
- 7 Can lizards feel pain when their tails fall off?
How exactly does the tail detachment of lizards work?
Lizards have so-called predetermined breakpoints in the caudal vertebrae. The connective and muscle tissue is weakest at these breakpoints.
The lizard can undo its tail at will with a short, powerful contraction of the circular muscles. The breaking points are located from the sixth vertebra downward, allowing the lizard to cut the tail to any length.
Why does a lizard tail still move when it falls off?
If you have ever noticed when a lizard’s tail breaks off, it is amazing to see how the tail keeps moving in rapid circling, constantly swaying, the speed of the tail wagging decreasing from fast to slow, which could last for several minutes.
Studies conducted by scientists have shown that the lizard’s tail contains not only fat but also a large amount of glycogen. The lizard’s nutrition and energy are stored in the tail in the form of glycogen.
Glycogen is the easiest substance to release. When the tail breaks off, glycogen is quickly released, which keeps the broken tail quivering.
How important is the tail for a lizard?
Cutting off the lizard’s tail entails a sacrifice for the lizard because the tail is a storehouse of nutrients. It normally stores excess nutrients in the tail.
If the tail is broken, it loses the nutrient storehouse. This undoubtedly causes it to suffer a great physiological impact. Scientists have also discovered from observations that lizards often show the importance of their strength and status with their thick, long tails.
If it loses its tail, it means that its status among its conspecifics has been diminished and it has been bullied. The longer the tail it loses, the lower its status.
Therefore, a lizard with a severed tail can only regenerate its tail and squeeze nutrients from all parts of its body to regenerate its tail.
How many times can a lizard’s tail be broken?
It is a well-known fact that lizards can regenerate their tails, but many people may not know that lizards can regenerate their tails countless times.
The lizard’s tail can be regenerated if it is broken because there are a lot of stem cells at the fracture, it will blast other cells to form a new tail, but this new long-tail contains only cartilage, which is not as good as the original.
But it can still regenerate countless times, because there is a hormone in his body that stimulates the regeneration of the tail, and this hormone still exists until he dies.
How long does it take for a lizard to grow a tail?
The time it takes for a lizard to grow a new tail is relatively long. In general, it takes at least a few months from the time the tail breaks off until it regains its length.
The specific time it takes depends on many factors. For example, the degree of breakage of the tail, if only a small piece of tail is broken, the time needed for it to grow back well is relatively short.
In addition, the time it takes for the tail to grow out is also related to the lizard itself. Some lizards are in a good state of development, and the time required is naturally shorter.
Can a lizard survive without a tail?
A lizard can survive without its tail, although it will be a hard time before it grows back, as mentioned before, the tail is an energetic supply, its social behavior, as well as the mobility of the lizard will be directly affected by not having a tail.
Can lizards feel pain when their tails fall off?
It has been proven that reptiles such as lizards can feel pain, similar to mammals, with the only difference being that they are incapable of screaming, although there are other ways of showing pain in a lizard.
Although the lizard’s tail is largely composed of fat and tissue, the lizard may feel pain when its tail is detached, especially if the tail cut occurs close to the body, this may be evidenced by a partial color change when the tail is detached.
The change of color in certain areas of a lizard is a sign of pain due to some physical injury.